Very Little ... Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy and Literature / Edition 2

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Very Little ... Almost Nothing puts the question of the meaning of life back at the centre of intellectual debate. Its central concern is how we can find a meaning to human finitude without recourse to anything that transcends that finitude. A profound but secular meditation on the theme of death, Critchley traces the idea of nihilism through Blanchot, Levinas, Jena Romanticism and Cavell, culminating in a reading of Beckett, in many ways the hero of the book.
In this second edition, Simon Critchley has added a revealing and extended new preface, and a new chapter on Wallace Stevens which reflects on the idea of poetry as philosophy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415340496
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/1/2004
  • Series: Warwick Studies in European Philosophy Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Critchley is Professor of Philosophy in the Graduate Faculty, New School University, New York and at the University of Essex. He is author and editor of many books including The Ethics of Deconstruction and On Humour
(also published by Routledge).

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations xi
Preface to Second Edition: As my father, I have already died xv
Preamble: Travels in Nihilon 1
(a) Philosophy begins in disappointment 2
(b) Pre-Nietzschean nihilism 4
(c) Nietzschean nihilism 8
(d) Responding to nihilism: five possibilities 11
(e) Heidegger's transformation of Nietzschean nihilism 15
(f) Heidegger contra Junger 18
(g) Impossible redemption: Adorno on nihilism 21
(h) Learning how to die--the argument 29
Lecture 1 Il y a 35
(a) Reading Blanchot 35
(b) How is literature possible? 40
(c) Orpheus, or the law of desire 48
(d) Blanchot's genealogy of morals: exteriority as desire, exteriority as law 52
(e) Il y a--the origin of the artwork 56
(i) first slope--Hegel avec Sade 57
(ii) second slope--a fate worse than death 63
(iii) ambiguity--Blanchot's secret 71
(f) The (im)possibility of death--or, how would Blanchot read Blanchot if he were not Blanchot? 77
(g) Holding Levinas's hand to Blanchot's fire 85
(i) a dying future 85
(ii) atheist transcendence 89
Lecture 2 Unworking romanticism 99
(a) Our naivete 99
(i) Kantian fragmentation 102
(ii) deepest naivete--political romanticism 105
(iii) Hegel, Schlegel 110
(iv) romantic modernity 113
(b) Digression I: Imagination as resistance (Wallace Stevens) 114
(c) Romantic ambiguity 123
(i) the fragment 125
(ii) wit and irony 131
(iii) the non-romantic essence of romanticism 135
(d) Cavell's 'romanticism' 138
(i) the romanticization of everyday life 138
(ii) Emerson as the literary absolute 141
(e) Digression II: Why Stanley loves America and why we should too 147
(f) Cavell's romanticism 154
(i) I live my scepticism 155
(ii) Cavell's tragic wisdom 157
(iii) finiteness, limitedness 161
Lecture 3 Know happiness--on Beckett 165
(a) Beckett and philosophical interpretation 165
(b) The dredging machine (Derrida) 169
(c) The meaning of meaninglessness and the paradoxical task of interpretation (Adorno I) 172
(d) Hope against hope--the elevation of social criticism to the level of form (Adorno II) 181
(e) Nothing is funnier than unhappiness--Beckett's laughter (Adorno III) 184
(f) Storytime, time of death (Molloy, Malone Dies) 188
(g) My old aporetics--the syntax of weakness (The Unnameable) 195
(h) Who speaks? Not I (Blanchot) 202
(i) No happiness? (Cavell) 207
Lecture 4 The philosophical significance of a poem--on Wallace Stevens 215
Notes 237
Acknowledgments 270
Index 273
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